Wyatt was a key figure in the creation of the Wind Engineering Society in the UK. From 2014 until he passed away in January 2018, he was an expert advisor for the fjord crossing group in The Coastal Highway Route E39-project.
To honour Wyatt’s legacy and his significant contact with the Norwegian academic community, his widow Eileen Wyatt and his family wanted to donate half a million NOK in order to support young Norwegian wind researchers.
In consultation with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and The Norwegian University of science and technology (NTNU), a bursary has been established to support young researchers within wind research and fracture dynamics at NTNU and The University of Stavanger. The bursary bears the name "The Thomas A. Wyatt Best Paper Award", and the prize of 35.000 NOK will be awarded annually for up to two high-quality scientific articles within Tom Wyatt's field. The first call is to be advertised in 2019, with subsequent allocation in October the same year.
Touched and grateful
– This is a wonderful day for me, I am simply thrilled and deeply moved that this bursary has now been ormally established. I have chosen to create it to honour my husband and the scientific field he was so passionate about. I'm so grateful, said Eileen Wyatt. In February she met with Mathias Egeland Eidem from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and Anders Rönnquist from NTNU to sign the formal documents for the establishment of the bursary.
– Tom was a wonderful father and husband, and he was a person who was deeply interested in his subject. Tom had a natural hunger for knowledge and a curiosity for a variety of subjects within the natural sciences. He was a hundred percent engineer, both professionally and private. We had a wonderful life together, and our great interest was to travel to exciting countries together, says Wyatt.
Tom’s daughter Marie-Clarie adds that he was also a committed grandfather who loved to explain things to his two grandchildren, two boys of three and six years, respectively.
– Throughout my childhood, my father was a man who loved to explain me things, and I have fond memories of his hunger for knowledge. His main hobby and passion outside the wind profession were trains of all kinds. He built model trains and railway models that obviously took a lot of space! We have seven large model railways in the attic, which still work! He had an incredible keen interest in taking things apart and repairing them again painstakingly, and I especially remember one time we had a whole car engine on the kitchen table that he had decided to repair, she laughs. He loved building models, also of bridge projects in a professional context, it was fascinating to see him deeply concentrated for hours, she says.
Close ties to Norway and Trondheim
Tom Wyatt had a close relationship with NTNU, formerly NTH (Norwegian University of Technology) in Trondheim. He developed a lifelong collaboration and friendship with Erik Hjorth Hansen, a professor of aerodynamics at NTH, which gave him great respect for the engineering education in Norway.
Anders Rönnquist and Mathias Egeland Eidem say that Tom Wyatt, in addition to being a skilled and recognized professional, also was very pleasant and interesting to discuss various topics with, and that he had a great sense of humour.
– Tom was part of the expert group associated with The Coastal Highway Route E39-project together with Prof. Bill Webster (UC Berkeley) in Hydrodynamics, Prof. Preben Terndrup Pedersen (DTU) within risk, and Prof. Peter Marti (ETH Zurich) in engineering.
– With his deep knowledge, he was a very important asset for the project related to the aerodynamic behaviour of the bridges currently under development. Because of his wide experience in several disciplines, and his interest for almost anything of a technical nature, he was able to “build bridges” between the various disciplines and pinpoint if there was something that had been overlooked. Although he was a Professor, and hence spent much of his life working at a very high academic level, I was positively surprised at how focused Tom was on the practical aspects of the challenges we had with the large fjord crossings. My impression of him has intensified from speaking with his family and friends since his passing, and in my opinion, his practical approach is probably one of the reasons why he was such a skilled engineer, says Eidem.
– It was inspiring to work with a professional like Tom who shared so much of his knowledge and his zeal for bridges and the wind profession with us, says Eidem and Rönnquist.
– It is a great honour for us to manage the bursary. We have many good researchers at NTNU who will be motivated by being potential recipients of the award by disseminating their research results at international conferences, says Rönnquist.
– My husband loved Norway, and he always spoke warmly about the university in Trondheim. He was passionate about the constructions you are working on in the Coastal Highway Route E39-project, I hope that they will be realised, even if it’s unlikely to happen in my lifetime, says Eileen Wyatt.
– I trust that you will grant the award to a worthy candidate who is not only professionally skilled but who also loves life, just as Tom did, she exclaims.
After Tom Wyatt's passing, former students and colleagues could sign a memorandum, here is an excerpt from a couple of the texts:
Tom was an inspireing mentor, a close collaborator with his peers, including me, over many years and a great friend. His expertise in the field of wind engineering was unsurpassed and was widely recognised throughout the world. As important, however, he was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.
I recall that we were investigating the wind response of the Northumberland Park Lighting Tower in Tottenham, Tom volunteered to go to the top of the tower (200 feet) and run back and forth across the platform to excite the tower into motion so that we could set our measuring instruments. We shall not see his like again and the world is a poorer place for his passing.
Queries about the Thomas A. Wyatt Best Paper Award can be directed to Professor Rönnquist.
About Thomas A. Wyatt
- Born in 1932.
- Graduated from Imperial College London as top student in his class in 1952.
- Completed his PhD at the University of London in 1955.
- Began his career with Freeman Fox & Partner, where he worked for nine years, amongst his projects was the design of the suspension bridge Severn Bridge in the UK. Along with the Severn Bridge team he was awarded the prestigious MacRobert Award* in 1969 for the innovative engineering work on this suspension bridge.
- Began as a lecturer at Imperial College in 1963
- Was one of the founders of the Wind Engineering Society in the UK, where he also headed for a period.
- Has also received the James Watt Medal from The Institution of Civil Engineers.
- From the end of the 1960s, he was central in creating the design rules for several types of wind-sensitive constructions, including bridges, towers and masts.
- Was a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
- Was professionally active in both bridge and skyscraper projects right up until his passing in January 2018.
* The MacRobert Award is awarded annually by The Royal Academy of Engineering.